Seventh on stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia, Trek-Segafredo's Jasper Stuyven improved to third on stage 2 of the Italian Grand Tour to confirm his bunch sprint capabilities. A stage winner at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana, the 24-year-old is making his Giro debut in 2017 and has been quick to make a mark on the race.
While teammate and Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo struggled on the category two Genna Silana climb late in the day, Trek-Segafredo put its eggs in the Stuyven basket. The Belgian couldn't match the pure power of stage winner Andre Greipel but finished fast to ensure his first podium of the Giro.
"I think I did a good sprint and I am happy with the result since it wasn't the best day for me with the headwind," said Stuyven. "I was hoping for a harder stage, so I was happy when Bahrain (Merida) started to pull really hard on the bumps after the cat-2 climb and made it really hard. So at least it was a little bit of suffering."
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With the stage expected to be too hard for the sprinters, a strong headwind contributed to a finale favourable to the fast finishers. While Stuyven was pleased with the result, he added he is looking for harder stages where sprinters such as Greipel are eliminated.
"It was a good sprint, a tailwind. I think I was too far back with one kilometer to go and I was lucky to grab a rider's wheel who was riding to the front," said Stuyven. "I like to get in the mix, and like I said I need harder stages so that sprinters like Greipel are dropped. If not, I just try and make the best of it, and sometimes it ends up in a nice podium."
Sunday's 148km stage 3 from Tortoli to Cagliari is the last on Sardinia for 2017 and once again expected to suit a bunch sprint finish. For sport director Kim Andersen, the opening two stages have confirmed the form and condition of Stuyven with the Dane explaining he is pleased with the results considering the team is titled towards GC rather than sprints.
"For sure we would like to win, but that's not so easy," said Andersen. "Yesterday we had two guys up there, and today Giacomo was not so good in the end, so we tried to help Jasper what we could. We don't have so many to help in a leadout, but we did the best we could, and I think Jasper did a pretty good sprint. He's motivated and looking very, very good."
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